Childfree Weddings Make Me Sad

We live in a society that increasingly compartmentalizes fun

Kerala Taylor

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Image compiled by author in Canva.

Eighteen months ago, I didn’t know childfree weddings were a thing. I’ve since been invited to three and attended two.

I can think of quite a few good reasons for excluding children from one’s wedding. They’re expensive, for one. I’ve been told they typically cost the same as any full-grown guest, even if they sit on their parents’ laps, don’t drink alcohol (we hope), and eat only a fraction of what their adult counterparts consume.

Children can also be disruptive. They make noise at inopportune times. They spill things. They sneeze, cough, and cry with abandon.

All couples have the right to choose their own guest list, to set the terms of who they’re willing to pay for and how much potential for chaos they are willing to endure.

I myself got married in a rustic cluster of cabins, 11 miles off the nearest paved road and four hours from the nearest major airport. In making this choice, I inadvertently precluded my grandmother from attending. The best man also left a day early because his wife couldn’t stomach the prospect of taking a shower outdoors. But I wanted a wedding with a beautiful view that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg — for us, and also for our guests, many of whom camped in tents.

So while childfree weddings do indeed make me sad, I’m not passing judgment on anyone’s individual choice. I’m not saying they’re wrong, or that I have the right to impose my children on whomever I please, wherever and whenever I please.

It’s not any particular childfree wedding that has made me sad. But their increasing popularity exemplifies a broader trend that I find worrisome, to say the least. The New York Times recently reported that of “4,000 couples with 2024 wedding dates, 79.5 percent are in favor of kid-free weddings.”

Just a few short years ago, it seems, weddings were one of the last bastions of multigenerational socialization — a place where children were forgiven for acting like… well, children, and where adults were forgiven for maybe getting a little tipsy in front of said children. They were a place where everyone, toddlers and great grandparents alike, were welcome on the dance floor.

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Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: https://keralataylor.substack.com